May 11, 2024

A Higher Degree of Awareness

How to use Programmatic Awareness Activity for Postgraduate Enrolment

Welcome the postgraduate loan!

For Universities looking to fill more postgrad courses, this incentive for enrolment will no doubt become a central focus in their marketing for 2016 and beyond. And for potential applicants not yet in market, programmatic advertising is a great way to raise awareness.

Hang on a second. Programmatic advertising as an awareness tool??

Yes, indeed. It’s a common misconception that programmatic serves lower-funnel activity alone, and we see many marketers missing out on serious value because of it. In reality, running both upper and lower-funnel campaigns is the best way to use the technology.

Engaging new prospects who are yet to consume existing postgrad information might seem like a challenge for those of you who are familiar only with retargeting. But with this new funding proposition, you’ve already got plenty of leverage to create an engaging awareness campaign.


A solid strategy helps you target efficiently by limiting the reach of your ads to relevant prospects. Data from your CRM system can be used to build lookalike models from existing postgraduate applicants and/or students. Refining by factors such as income, ethnicity, age and so on, will then help achieve a suitable demographic mix, so that you can tailor your messaging accordingly.

But don’t heavily restrict the machine learning capabilities of your DSP. With enough room, the tech will fill in any gaps that your data doesn’t cover, revealing findings on potential applicants that you may not be aware of. With awareness, you want to reach prospects who are not already in market for postgraduate courses, and the tech will ensure you don’t have any blind spots.


In the same way that retargeting ads are only served to existing students/prospects, awareness activity should centre around fresh postgrad prospects.

When a new prospect views one of your banner ads, a unique cookie ID should be assigned to them - they are then identifable across the web. This ID tells you how the user is responding to activity and what actions (if any) they are taking. It will also help you gauge how many awareness ads to serve before that user is added to your retargeting pool – for example, if the user has seen 6 awareness ads and checked your postgrad course offering following more than half of those, it’s time to raise the stakes and start retargeting with personalised creative.

Segmentation is crucial if you’re running awareness and retargeting campaigns alongside one another. Without this de-dupe, you risk all prospects being exposed to the wrong message at the wrong time and overloaded with too many ads from separate campaigns.


You’ve probably heard through the grapevine that people rarely click on ads, and studies have shown that those who do are not the most likely to convert anyway.

For an awareness campaign, valuable impressions are gold dust; the right impression, delivered in the right context is more likely to increase engagement and conversion further down the line. The journey to conversion (in this case, enrolment on a postgrad course and application for the loan) is rarely linear, but awareness is crucial in the beginning. Credit should be given to the impressions that kick-off the process, so that you can monitor performance - accurately.


To make that impression count, you’ve got to use great creative.

Awareness campaigns rely on memorable visuals and copy, because when your ad is out of sight, prospects are more likely to recall a campaign that was original, emotional and personally relevant. It also enables them to join up the dots between different channel activity, reinforcing a strong, integrated message.

Whether you focus on the appeal of the postgrad loan for new prospects, or push certain courses according to your models, make sure you ramp up production power, and go BIG on ideas.

If you’re using an agency, operating in-house, or even if you’re yet to implement the tech, the introduction of postgraduate loans is a prime opportunity to trial programmatic awareness activity. With a bag of punchy creative concepts and a segmented strategy, HE marketers should grab the chance to see how perfect a match upper-funnel marketing and programmatic advertising can be.

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